The William Saliba saga at Arsenal has been a frustrating thread to follow for supporters who are still yet to see the Frenchman make his senior debut for the club.
Saliba joined Arsenal in 2019 under Unai Emery but has since been on three loans. Returning to Saint-Etienne in his first season, spending six months with Nice in his second and this campaign saw him join Marseille.
The 20-year-old has been one of OM’s best players under Jorge Sampaoli and contributed to the club’s strong start to the campaign as they look to build on by qualifying for the Champions League.
However, with Arsenal signing Ben White and assigning him Saliba’s number 4, there was concern that the player would not ever feature for the Gunners despite the near £30 million price tag.
Transfer journalist Fabrizio Romano provided a reprieve to Arsenal fans, however, revealing that the club had been in contact with Saliba regularly to let him know ‘they trust him 100%.’
There does however appear an issue for when he returns regarding game time. Both White and Gabriel Magalhaes have formed a solid partnership under Mikel Arteta.
The pair have conceded just 1 goal in the 4 matches they have been paired together. Should this trend continue, wondering where Saliba would earn game time is uncertain.
Competition is always key though and Saliba’s ability to play as either a right or left center-half will certainly place him in good stead regarding rotation or to cover possible injuries.
Furthermore, Arteta has decided to operate with a back 3 system at times and White himself often played in the formation when at Brighton.
A back 3 system of Saliba, White and Gabriel is certainly a possible solution of how to fit them all in. The question would then be on whether Takehiro Tomiyasu could play as a right wing-back. Although he too has experience of playing the position for Bologna, but not frequently.
Kieran Tierney would be placed into the left wing-back position allowing him more licence to roam forwards and have the security of Gabriel behind to cover.
Saliba may end up presenting Arteta with more solutions to problems than the opposite. Arsenal looked like they struggled against Brighton and Chelsea’s back 3 system in the games this season.
Perhaps the presence of Saliba would have enabled Arteta to switch structures easier and combated the opposition better.
Saliba is said to return for the 2022/23 season and finally, Arsenal fans could be treated to seeing him compete at last for the side.
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Source by Football London